The High Court in Mzuzu has thrown out government’s application to vacate an injunction which civil society organisations (CSOs) obtained three weeks ago restraining George Chaponda from executing ministerial assignments in the Agriculture Ministry.
BY OSWARD KAYANGE
During the hearing held yesterday, Judge John Chirwa further ruled that the CSOs have sufficient interest to litigate the matter, such that they can commence court proceedings in the case.
Lawyer representing the organisations Wesley Mwafulirwa described the ruling as landmark, saying it proves that the court has authority to review prerogative powers which in this case are vested in the President.
Following the extension of the reporting deadline by the Commission of Inquiry which is investigating the suspicious maize deal between Malawi and Zambia in which Chaponda is connected by virtue of his ministry, Mwafulirwa said the ruling means Chaponda remains suspended until the commission completes its task.
“Democracy has won, constitutionalism reigns above anything else. The injunction order against honourable Chaponda remains valid and the case can go for full judicial review,” he said.
However, Judge Chirwa has ruled that the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale is not answerable to the case, thus leaving Chaponda and President Peter Mutharika party to the case as first and second respondent respectively.
“We have won the case with costs, the court has ordered the government side to meet all the costs that the CSOs have incurred since the initial application of the injunction order,” Mwafulirwa added.
Yesterday’s ruling follows an inter-partes hearing on January 17, during which Kaphale challenged the court against interfering with the executive arm of government.
Kaphale did not grant us an interview as he remained in a closed-door meeting with Judge Chirwa but reports indicate that he intends to appeal against the ruling to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the CSOs which include, The Church and Society in the Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central African Presbytery (CCAP), Youth and Society and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) have since commenced contempt of court proceedings against embattled Chaponda.
Despite the injunction, Chaponda last week flew out to Germany where he attended a meeting in a ministerial capacity.
“We are doing this for the common good. In the end, we want to ensure that the Constitution and rule of law are adhered to,” said activist Moses Mkandawire.